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A beautiful day to be out and about. I travelled a few miles to Lesnes Abbey in south-east London to attend a field studies council teaching day on the identification of Spiders. Now, as regular readers know I do recording for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bumblebees on my local patch but I have to confess that I know next to nothing about spiders. Unlike the others, they don’t tend to make themselves obvious, quite the opposite in effect so I thought this course, part of the FSC’s Biolinks project was an excellent opportunity to at least start to remedy that.

The morning was taken up by an introductory talk on common spiders and how to recognise them. Species-level identification can be very difficult in the field so it is often about just identifying the family they come from – in some case there are only one species in a family which helps. In the afternoon we spent the time in and around Lesnes Abbey. We started with a wall in the ruins and soon had examples of 5 or 6 species to look at – who would have guessed that so much lived in an old wall. The highlight was a large but very agile example of the Lace web Spiders (Amaurobius ferox) along with a Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus)and the more common lace web spider (Amaurobious similis).

Amaurobious Ferrox

Zebra Spider (left) and House Spider spp (right)

Next, we examined a bush and found another group of species. My favourite was the Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitinia).

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Cucumber Spider. Photo by Mary Shattock (https://www.flickr.com/photos/maryshattock/)

Our final stop was some grassland where we found some Large Jawed Spider (Pachygnatha spp) along with Wolf Spider. My favorite here was the Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

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Cricket Bat Spider. Photo by Christophe Quintan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/34878947@N04/)

This was a very worthwhile and productive day. Thanks to Lawrence and Keiron who led it. I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their invertebrate identification to check out the Biolinks page at http://www.field-studies-council.org/individuals-and-families/fsc-biolinks-courses.aspx

Spider spp seen

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata); Crab Spider spp; Running Crab spider spp; Cucumber Spider (Araniella curcurbitinia); Nursery Web Spider spp; Lace web Spider ( Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius Ferrox); Zebra Spider ( Salticus scenicus); Money Spider spp; House Spider spp; Wolf Spider spp; Large Jawed Spider spp; Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

Amazing poto of a Sparrowhawk visiting a garden in Wales.

Via Sue Lewis….this female sparrow hawk has been marauding around Sue’s garden… helping herself to the feeding birds much to sue’s annoyance ..but still a very likeable visitor.

via Sparrow hawk .Llandegley — Radnor Bird Blog

Have only had the same experience once and it was amazing. (See https://petesfavouritethings.blog/2013/09/27/naturelog-thursday-26th-september/ )

 

Bufflehead

Posted: April 17, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, USA
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The Bufflehead is an attractive small sea duck of the Americas. The name is derived from buffalo-head, a comment on its rather large bulbous head. It winters on the East and West coasts of North America and breeds in Alaska and Canada, where it uses cavities in trees previously excavated by birds such as woodpeckers.

Unlike a number of other sea ducks, which are showing a decline, the population of Buffleheads appears to be remaining fairly constant at this time.

There is a house in Brook St in central London that carries two Blue memorial plaques. Both are dedicated to master musicians, although of very different genres and ages.

George Friderick Handel lived at 23 Brook St for over 40 years (1719-1759) and wrote most of his famous compositions here including ‘Messiah’ and ‘Water Music’.

Rock Guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix moved in with his girlfriend Kathy, who lived in a flat in the now converted building, in 1968. By this time he was one of the biggest hits in rock music. He lived here until March the following year when he left to tour the USA. He was only to return for brief spells in the year that followed. He died in a hotel in Notting Hill in September 1970, aged 27.

23 Brook St now houses the Handel House Museum. The rooms in which Hendrix and his girlfriend lived are used by the museum as offices, although they were opened up to the public and used to display a temporary exhibition in 2010 to mark the 40th anniversary of Hendrix death.

A question that is often asked is did Hendrix know about the Handel connection? Reports suggest that he did not until he moved in, but was so intrigued by it that he scoured local record shops in the search for recordings of Handel’s compositions and some even claim that there are elements of Handel’s music in Hendrix’s later compositions.

 

 

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As you enter from the gardens through the entrance hall you are immediately struck by the beauty of the amazing reception room that lies beyond. With corridors and stairways leading off of it this room acts as a central focal point for the whole house.

 

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This is perhaps my favourite room in the house with its wonderful simplicity and amazing woodwork

 

This statue stands above the main entrance to the well-known London store Selfridges situated in Oxford Street. It depicts the Queen of Time and was created by Gilbert Bayes. It was unveiled in 1931.

Today’s venue was the New Hythe and Leybourne complex of lakes in the Medway valley in Kent. This is one of the best venues to hear and see Nightengales when they first arrive and so Keith and I decided to visit to see if there were any early returners.

Certainly, there were migrants establishing territories and a number of Chiffchaff and Blackcaps together with a single Willow Warbler were heard and in some cases seen. Apart from these birds, it was relatively quiet on the lakes and there was no sound of any returning Nightengales yet.

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Blackcap (m)

The other highlight of the day was a number of butterflies, probably all overwintering species brought out by the warm weather. Brimstone, Red Admiral and Peacock were all seen.

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There were plenty of Rabbits as well

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

A bright Sunny day and so a good opportunity to do this week’s invertebrate survey. Finally, there seems to be some movement towards spring and in the garden, I recorded 4 species of Bee including Tree Bumblebee which as far as I can remember I have never seen here before. I also found a single Comma butterfly.

Tree Bumblebee (left) and Comma Butterfly

Around the Tarn, it was much the same picture with the same 4 species of Bumblebee including another Tree Bumblebee but no butterflies to add to the count. I did see a Slider, an American species of Terrapin which has been introduced into our waterways by pet owners who no longer want to look after them.

Red Slider and Common Moorhen

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)                                                                             Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestis)                                                                                   Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)                                                                                           Honey Bee

 

This sculpture which stands at the entrance to the Museum of London in the Barbican is entitled ‘Union’ It depicts a horse with two huge discs one on either side of it. It is by Christopher Le Brun.

A quote from the artist reads:
“When you talk about horses and riders in my work it is important to me that they are not seen as real…I think of it as an entrance or key to the place that I want to enter. It’s as if ‘the horse’ enables the journey rather than providing the final subject.” (translations welcome as I have no idea what he is  trying to say)

 

I might not understand the meaning behind the sculpture but it is certainly an impressive figure as you approach the museum.

 

 

Eltham Palace is approached from the town centre across a bridge which spans the moat and leads you into the inner garden which runs alongside the northern wing into the area which would have formed the courtyard of the Medieval Palace.

 

The gardens which incorporate the remains of the medieval palace along with the house are a great place to walk in the summer and are a great place for butterflies and dragonflies. They also give some great views of the House.

At one point in the garden, there is a great vista looking north towards central London.

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